In cleaning out some old papers in my office recently, I came across a copy of a letter of introduction Joy Cowley wrote to an editor on my behalf. I met Joy at Chautauqua in 1999, my first experience with the Highlights Foundation. Two years later I signed up for my first “Founders Workshop” (which is what they were called back then because they are held at the former home of the founders of Highlights magazine).
I decided on this particular workshop because the one and only faculty person was Joy Cowley, someone whom I admired and was inspired by. The workshop was called Writing from the Heart. I learned so much from Joy about digging deep within myself to get to the heart of my writing. And as if all that I learned was not enough, Joy wrote this wonderful letter of introduction to an editor friend of hers.
That letter did not lead to publication, but the confidence Joy placed in my work to have written it helped me to get through the rejection that followed. And the lessons I learned in her workshop remain with me and help infuse my writing every day.
Other faculty members at Highlights workshops have had a huge impact on my books. Rich Wallace always seemed to find what wasn’t working in my attempts and helped steer me in a different direction. I have learned from Patty Gauch, Jane Yolen, and Carolyn Yoder. My work is better—and published—because of these people.
In May, 2017, I will be on the faculty of a Highlights Foundation workshop. I was honored to be asked. I have the opportunity to try to light the way for another group of writers, the way Joy Cowley and Rich Wallace did for me. It is a lot to live up to, and I do not take the responsibility lightly.